Monday, December 4, 2023

Constitution Hill ‘the horse of a generation’

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‘He could do anything,’ says Constitution Hill’s jockey Nico de Boinville
Venue: Cheltenham Racecourse Dates: 14-17 March Races: 13:30-17:30 GMT Main race: 15:30
Coverage: Commentaries on BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra, with feature races on BBC Radio 5 Live. Racecards, live text, results & reports on the BBC Sport website & app

Constitution Hill has been hailed as the “horse of a generation” after his breathtaking Champion Hurdle victory at Cheltenham.

The unbeaten gelding routed his rivals with a nine-length triumph that had racing followers purring.

Trainer Nicky Henderson said the horse was “extraordinary” and jockey Nico de Boinville called him a superstar.

“He’s the horse of a generation, maybe a horse we talk about for generations,” said racing legend AP McCoy.

The retired 20-time champion jump jockey added on ITV Racing: “He’s the real deal. That was a proper performance. He travelled all the way, jumped well and it looked so simple.”

His victory came on one of Cheltenham’s most memorable days, with Honeysuckle providing a poignant and emotional victory in what was billed as the mare’s swansong.

Ridden by Rachael Blackmore, she took the Mares’ Hurdle, six months after trainer Henry de Bromhead’s 13-year-old son Jack died in a riding accident.

While six-year-old Constitution Hill has only raced six times, it is the manner and ease of his victories which put him in a league of his own.

Ratings experts Timeform have him on a mark of 177, with the potential for more progression to come. Their highest-rated hurdlers of all time are Night Nurse (182), ahead of Istabraq and Monksfield (180).

Constitution Hill wins by nine lengths
Constitution Hill won by nine lengths

At odds of 4-11, Constitution Hill is the shortest-priced winner in the history of the Champion Hurdle, and is already odds-on favourite for next year’s Champion Hurdle.

But owner Michael Buckley has previously hinted he could embark on a steeplechase career with the ultimate aim of emulating Dawn Run, the only horse to win the two-mile Champion Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup over three and a quarter miles.

“You can do anything with this horse. You could jump a fence, you could go three miles. He has had six races now and has barely come off the bridle,” said trainer Henderson.

Henderson has trained great racehorses such as See You Then, Altior and Sprinter Sacre but even he seems surprised at the level Constitution Hill has reached at such an early stage in his career.

“It is an extraordinary thing to happen but he is an extraordinary horse. He is a freak,” said Henderson.

Constitution Hill’s winning run

Six races. Six wins. Aggregate winning distance 86 lengths.

  • December 2021 – Sandown, 14 lengths
  • January 2022 – Sandown, 12 lengths
  • March 2022 – Cheltenham, 22 lengths
  • November 2022 – Newcastle, 12 lengths
  • December 2022 – Kempton, 17 lengths
  • March 2023 – Cheltenham, 9 lengths

‘The Erling Haaland of racing’ – what you said

Here’s how some BBC Sport website readers reacted to the Champion Hurdle triumph:

“Best I have seen since Istabraq. Demolished the opposition.”

“Been watching Cheltenham avidly since 1976. I thought Sprinter Sacre was the best National Hunt horse I’d seen in all that time. But I think Constitution Hill is even better. He runs like Secretariat.”

“Quite a remarkable performance … ridiculously easy … never seen it done that simply in a Champion Hurdle and I’ve seen some good’uns … monster of a horse.”

“The Erling Haaland of the horse racing world.”

Analysis – ‘It was effortless’

Andrew Thornton, who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Cool Dawn in 1998, told BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra: “I’ve seen good horses like Istabraq but this is something different.

“The credit Nico deserves coming to the last, he gave the horse the option and he didn’t panic. He is so intelligent, willing and game and I haven’t seen a performance like that before.”

Charlie Poste, who won the Welsh Grand National on Le Beau Bai in 2011: “It made the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

“Constitution Hill has treated State Man with disdain and demolished a quality field and it was effortless. He is so, so talented. Just fabulous.

“He went to the last and we saw a horse with so much effort left. This is the sort of thing our sport is all about – a supreme champion. He is a horse enjoying his work. He has got everything.”

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